Suburban Manufacturing honored as 2013 Industry of the Year

When Suburban Manufacturing, Inc. owners Brad and Mary Barger decided it was time to break ground on a new 45,000 square-foot facility on the corner of Chelsea Road and Dalton Avenue, they wanted to make sure their bricks-and-mortar  business commitment remained true to their longtime Monticello roots.
Suburban moved into its new facility in June 2012. The company is proud of the fact that 90 percent of the labor used to build its new state-of-the-art facility came from contractors within a 20-mile radius of Monticello.
During a recent facility tour, CEO Peter Thompson pointed out it was critical for the company to expanded its break room meeting space in order to allow the company’s 60 full-time employees even more opportunities to efficiently interact with each other.
Suburban has a program in place that allows employees to offer suggestions to improve processes and procedures. Since August, company employees have submitted more than 400 process improvements, and during the past year, the majority of Suburban’s employees each received roughly 40 hours of training.
Suburban’s 2013 Industry of the Year survey describing the company’s business activities touched directly on major evaluation criteria, such as business excellence, staff training, motivation and employee engagement, community involvement, customer relations, innovation and economic growth potential.
The company was honored during a Wednesday morning manufacturer’s appreciation breakfast in the Monticello Community Center’s Mississippi Room.
This year’s Monticello Industrial & Economic Development Committee and Economic Development Authority event was sponsored by the Monticello Times.
Each year, the Monticello Industrial & Economic Development Committee (IEDC) selects the Industry of the Year award recipient as part of Minnesota Manufacturers Week.
The Industry of the Year award is given to a Monticello industry that stands out in its commitment to business excellence, employee training and engagement, community involvement, customer relations, innovation, and overall economic growth. Suburban Manufacturing was founded 33 years ago and has steadily grown its business in Monticello, now employing 60 full-time employees at its location in the Monticello Business Center.
Suburban is an engineering-driven organization that partners with customers to design and develop unique and specific solutions for multiple applications within the defense, hydraulics, oil and gas, automotive, agriculture, construction and utility, and industrial markets.
Last year, Suburban invested in significant software and technology to become a leading engineering, manufacturing and distribution company. Supported by a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant, Suburban offered training during normal hours so its employees could receive specific training. Many company employees volunteer their time in the Monticello community, serving on multiple local committees and events.
Suburban has four main divisions: Tsunami Compressed Air Solutions, which helps customers in the automotive paint and equipment, instrumentation and measurement, compressor manufacture, and original equipment manufacturers; lubrication systems, which provides a complete line of automatic chain oilers and greasing systems to large agricultural equipment manufacturers, forestry companies, railroad companies and the U.S. Navy; the protective coverings group, which offers a complete line of protective sleeves, straps and engine blankets and exhaust coverings manufactured from a wide variety of custom fabrics to provide equipment and operator protection, this division manufactures custom engineered-to-order solutions per customer specifications for a wide variety of industries.
Finally, Suburban’s contract manufacturing services division provides precision machining and assembly and specialties that include computer numeric control (CNC) milling and turning for the medical, industrial and agricultural industries and their allied original equipment manufactures.
In 2013,  Suburban teamed with Anoka-Ramsey Community College to bring instructors to train the company’s employees. Thompson said Suburban has also worked with St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical College to provide summer internships to several students, and last year, the company brought an international company and three St. Cloud State University students together to implement new technology within Suburban’s machining department.
One of the St. Cloud State students, Matt Olding, was hired as a tooling engineer, Thompson said. Olding’s position was recently created after Suburban installed its Zoller Tool Setter and ENET direct numerical control (DNC) software and controllers. Thompson said the tool setter provides a more automated way of capturing the needed information about tools that will be set up and run in a CNC machine.
The ENET DNC software and controller is an interface to manage the flow of information to and from the CNC machines. Specifically, the company is managing the electronic  transfer of tool information and programs to eliminate data entry errors and speed up the machine setup process.
Olding maintains all of the tooling, including ordering, organizing, assembling and staging for the Suburban Manufacturing’s machine shop.
He also validates that production jobs are ready to be released to the floor, ensuring materials have been ordered and received, packing materials are available and that quality inspection plans are read. He also maintains the Zoller and ENET DNC software, Thompson said.
Since moving into the new facility, the company has added several new pieces of CNC equipment to its machining department and implemented state of the art tool setting and programming software as well as started a brand new production line in its protective coverings department.
Additionally, Suburban has expanded its computer network from one server and 17 computers to nine servers linked to more than 90 computers.
The company continues to develop a unique  custom sewing machine and has ordered a new horizontal machining center with an eight-station pallet pool that’s scheduled for delivery this December.

Contact Tim Hennagir at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com

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